TOPEKA, Kan. — It had been 50 years since the last time the Lincoln Blue Tigers defeated the Washburn Ichabods on the basketball court.
Well, they can't say that anymore.
Lincoln never trailed in Thursday night's game, but the final outcome still came down to the closing seconds. A 3-point shot by Washburn's Tyler Geiman was off the mark in the final seconds and the Blue Tigers were able to escape with a 75-73 win.
It was Lincoln's first win in the series since beating Washburn 69-66 during the 1968-69 season. The Blue Tigers had won the first three games of the series, but they entered Thursday's contest with a 28-game losing streak against the Ichabods.
Grant Olsson scored on Lincoln's third possession for the first points of the game. The Blue Tigers held that lead until Washburn briefly tied the score at 41 early in the second half.
Lincoln opened the game on a 15-3 run, getting 3-pointers from Amariontez Ivory and John Burton, as well as a dunk from Jonell Burton, during that stretch.
The Blue Tigers led by as many as 13 points during the first half, but the Ichabods closed the gap to two points after a layup by Javion Blake to make the score 29-27. Lincoln went into halftime leading 36-29, benefiting from a late offensive rebound and putback by Jonell Burton, followed by a technical foul on Washburn's Will McKee.
Washburn used a 7-0 run to tie Lincoln at 41, but on the ensuing possession, Ivory knocked down a 3 to put the Blue Tigers back in front for good.
Lincoln reeled off an 18-6 run, capped by another 3 from Ivory, to push its lead back to 12 points, only to see Washburn score the game's next 11 points to pull within one at 59-58.
Ni'Sean Rigmaiden made a pair of free throws with :28 left to extend Lincoln's lead to 73-68. Washburn missed a pair of 3-point attempts on its next trip down the floor, but after a pair of offensive rebounds, David Salach got a 3-point shot to fall with eight seconds left, closing the gap to one possession at 73-71.
Ivory was fouled immediately after the in-bounds pass and made 1-of-2 free throws. Lincoln then opted to foul while up by three points, and Blake made both free throws with six seconds left to make the score 74-73.
Terrance Smith was fouled on the next possession and made the first free throw, but he missed the second, setting up Washburn's last possession with a chance to win. Geiman miss at the end left him 1-of-7 shooting from 3 for the Ichabods.
Lincoln shot 49.1 percent from the field and was 10-of-21 from 3 for a 47.6 percent clip.
Ivory led the Blue Tigers with 21 points, making 6-of-8 shots from 3-point range. Smith finished with 18 points and Rigmaiden added 14 points and five assists. Jonell Burton grabbed a team-high seven rebounds, chipping in eight points.
Blake led Washburn (14-5, 7-3 MIAA) with 26 points and eight rebounds. Salach added 14 points and McKee finished with 11 points.
Lincoln (14-5, 7-3 MIAA), which is now tied for third place in the conference standings, will play at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Emporia State. The Hornets (8-11, 3-7 MIAA) won 85-68 against Lindenwood on Thursday at home.